Reading Questions for Russian Winter
12. Zoltan, also a refugee from the Iron Curtain, tells Grigori, "I remember before I left Hungary understanding completely that literature could save me as much as it could get me killed. Of course it's not like that here. But isn't it funny, that in some ways the price one pays for freedom of speech is...a kind of indifference." What does he mean by this? What do you think of his viewpoint? Must an artist suffer in some way to produce art?
13. After Nina defected to the West, she found she could not enjoy all of its freedoms. "Even when she tried to will it open, Nina's heart would not budge." Why couldn't she open herself up to new love and new friends? What held her back—habit or guilt?
14. What do you think of Drew Brooks? Do you see similarities between her and Nina? What are your impressions of Grigori Solodin? How are he and Nina alike?
15. What did Drew and Grigori offer each other that others could not? Do you think their personalities and experiences made them more attuned to Nina's unconscious longings and regrets?
16. Why did Nina refuse to see Grigori on the occasions he tried to contact her? How were their assumptions about each other wrong?
17. On their third anniversary, Viktor tells Nina, "Love is all we have." But for Nina, it is dance and love. And years later, Grigori's colleague and friend Zoltan remarks, "There are only two things that really matter in life. Literature and love." Can art change the world—change who we are? Can love? Has love or a passion transformed you or someone you know?
18. Have you ever met anyone who has lived under repressive circumstances? How did discovering their story affect you or your outlook?
19. Did Grigori ultimately have a better life—though it was fraught with uncertainty—because of Nina's selfishness? How might his experience have been different if he'd grown up in the Soviet Union rather than Europe and eventually America?
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